Chief Justice Saylor Thanks Bar for Support of Legal Aid and Encourages Additional Commitment Through Pro Bono

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Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor at 2014 PA Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor has directed a letter to all members of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania thanking them for their financial support of legal aid, and joined with Pennsylvania Bar Association President Sara Austin in requesting that attorneys consider making an additional personal commitment through the provision of pro bono representation of the poor and through financial support of Pennsylvania's legal aid programs.

The Chief Justice cited Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1, which calls for lawyers to "render public interest legal service." stating that it is the voluntary efforts of attorneys that most greatly impact those in need.

The letter outlines that "[t]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court is dedicated to ensuring that the civil legal needs of those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer are met," citing the Court's support of civil legal aid in a variety of ways, from securing funding for a loan forgiveness program for legal services practitioners to honoring the work of pro bono volunteers.

Chief Justice Saylor stated that "[w]e can take pride in what we have done, but must realize there is more to do," and encouraged the bar to see the many pro bono opportunities that exist by visting PALawHelp.org and by registering at PAProbono.net.

The letter concluded by quoting the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner regarding an attorney's responsibility to perform community service:

"Certainly, life as a lawyer is a bit more complex today than it was a century ago. The ever-increasing pressures of the legal marketplace, the need to bill hours, to market to clients, and to attend to the bottom line, have made fulfilling the responsibilities of community service quite difficult. But public service marks the difference between a business and a profession. While a business can afford to focus solely on profits, a profession cannot. It must devote itself first to the community it is responsible to serve. I can imagine no greater duty than fulfilling this obligation. And I can imagine no greater pleasure." 
     - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speech at the University of Oregon (1999)

Letter of Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Thomas G. Saylor